Our Trip to Haiti

“Thank you for giving us a new life. We’ll never stop saying thank you.”

— Elina, mother of six

Elina and her family.

Those words alone made New Story’s recent vision trip to Haiti worth it. With the utmost sincerity, a woman who had been living in scrap-made tent for five years thanked us for helping provide a new home.

That woman’s story was the reason the New Story team brought eleven people on its first vision trip — to cast a vision for our non-profit and to educate others on Haiti and the work being done to rebuild.

We toured the local village and school, played with the most joyful children, painted New Story-funded houses, took hundreds (thousands!) of pictures, and sweated streams in blue-tarp tents.

As we prepared to leave, we all ask ourselves, “What did we learn? What are we going to take away from our days here and bring back to our everyday lives?”

Because honestly, you can’t leave a place like Haiti without your story being changed in some way.

Here are some of the things we learned while in Haiti.

1. Everyone knows each other.

Relationships are important in Haiti. Whether it be as neighbors, family, or just friends.

They value these relationships above all else — relationships are why parents leave their kids during the day to work in the sweltering heat in order to provide. They are why Haitians desire stable and secure homes in order to protect.

2. Pants are optional, but tanks are a no-no.

We learned after we arrived that all the tanks we had packed for the Haitian heat were not recommended, especially for American girls. This left some of the girls on our team in a predicament, but we laughed (and sweated) it off.

As far as the pants, many of the kids wandering Leveque weren’t wearing any. Or any underwear. The phrase, “Pants are optional,” became a running joke with our group.

3. Greater than fear is hope.

We once tried to ask a village champion, a leader in the community, what his greatest fear was.

“No!” Rosamund firmly told me. “We don’t talk about fear. We have hope.”

We thought it was odd — doesn’t everyone have fears? And you shouldn’t suppress them, right?

But then we realized this: it’s not that Haitians don’t have fears, they just choose to instead focus on hope.

They choose to hope for the house, the education, the job. Hope is a powerful thing in Haiti.

Walking home from school

4. This kid is a superhero.

Truly. Though he’s in third grade, Olvitch runs a little business that provides food and education for his family.

His dad passed away a few years ago, leaving his mom to provide for the family, until Olvitch stepped in.

Only when his family moved into their house 2 years ago did Olvitch start a business selling handmade bracelets.

How many of us can say that we did that for our families when we were in third grade?

Olvitch’s goal is to one day become a doctor, so he can take care of patients.

5. Houses don’t change the person, but they change the life.

The people we met in the tarp tents and the people we met in the houses reflected the same joy, responsibility, and graciousness.

Wherever they live, they work hard, pursue opportunity, and fight for a better future.

In some way, we thought providing homes would change them. Make them happier. Less stressed.

But homes simply provide safety, security and opportunity — things that Haitians have been striving and praying for a long time before New Story ever entered the picture.

And we simply get to step in, recognize a need, and provide — become an answer to prayer.

All through the gift of the home, Haitians’ lives radically change.

We don’t see them go from sad to happy. We see Haitians go from joy to more joy.

To find out more about the work New Story is doing in Haiti, visit www.newstorycharity.org.